MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Rafael Palmeiro made some home-run history,
too, on Friday night.
Palmeiro hit his 548th homer to tie Mike Schmidt for 10th place
on the career list, and Larry Bigbie had a career-high seven RBI
to lead the Baltimore Orioles over Minnesota 11-2 Friday night and
stop the Twins' longest winning streak of the season at nine.
Minnesota's magic number to clinch the AL Central fell to three
when the Chicago White Sox lost to Detroit.
Palmeiro's two-run homer off Terry Mulholland (5-9), a drive off
the facing of the upper deck in right, put Baltimore ahead 3-2 in
the sixth. Palmeiro reached 20 homers for the 14th straight season,
matching a feat previously accomplished by Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth,
Willie Mays, Barry Bonds, Eddie Mathews and Schmidt. Bonds hit his
700th homer Friday night, in San Francisco.
"It feels great to be in a class like that, but I don't pay
much attention to it," Palmeiro said. "Right now I have other
things on my mind."
Bigbie had an RBI double in the fifth, then capped a pair of
five-run innings with a three-run double in the sixth and a
three-run homer in the seventh.
Sidney Ponson (11-14) won for the eighth time in 10 decisions,
giving up two runs and five hits in seven innings. Baltimore had
been the previous team to beat Minnesota, on Sept. 6, and is 51-23
against the Twins since 1996.
"It was a case of making a couple mistake pitches late in the
ball game," Mulholland said.
Stewart was injured after his left foot caught a bullpen mound
and he fell headfirst across the mound and landed against the
fence. He was helped to his feet by teammates and left the field
under his own power.
Hunter dove to catch Palmeiro's blooper with two on and no out
in the seventh and his left knee smacked the turf. The ball rolled
free and Hunter recovered to throw to third for a forceout, but he
came out of the game before the eighth inning.
"It's like someone took their knuckles and just beat my knee
up," Hunter said.
Asked what would have happened had the old, harder Metrodome
carpet not been replaced before the season, Hunter joked, "I'd be
dead," before turning serious and saying he probably would have
broken the kneecap.
Bigbie has hit safely in 12 of 14 games since coming off the DL
with a groin strain on Sept. 1. He said frustration from his first
at-bat, when he struck out after failing to bunt two runners over,
fueled his big night.
"It motivates you when you come up in the next at-bat with the
opportunity to drive in a run and make up for the miscue," Bigbie
said. "And in one great at-bat, it gives you confidence for the
rest of the game."
Bigbie drove in the Orioles' first run in the fifth with a
two-out RBI double. The Twins went ahead in the bottom half on
Michael Cuddyer's solo homer and Shannon Stewart's RBI groundout.
But Minnesota didn't register any other threats against Ponson.
"I have three more starts," Ponson said. "If I win all three,
I'll salvage this season."
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was back in the dugout after
missing two games because of the flu. ... The runs allowed by Crain
ended his scoreless streak at 15 2-3 innings. ... Hunter extended
his season-high hitting streak to 10 games with a first-inning
single. ... Bigbie has hit safely in 12 of 14 games since returning
from the DL on Sept. 1.
Padres host the Dodgers to begin 3-game series
Los Angeles Dodgers (106-47, first in the NL West) vs. San Diego Padres (85-68, second in the NL West)
Red Sox look to break 6-game slide, take on the Orioles
Baltimore Orioles (80-73, fourth in the AL East) vs. Boston Red Sox (72-81, fifth in the AL East)
Rangers look to stop slide in game against the Mariners
Texas Rangers (65-87, fourth in the AL West) vs. Seattle Mariners (83-69, second in the AL West)
Phillies look to break road skid, face the Cubs
Philadelphia Phillies (83-69, third in the NL East) vs. Chicago Cubs (67-86, third in the NL Central)
Astros host the Diamondbacks to begin 2-game series
Arizona Diamondbacks (71-83, fourth in the NL West) vs. Houston Astros (101-53, first in the AL West)
Giants take on the Rockies after Davis' 4-hit game
Colorado Rockies (65-88, fifth in the NL West) vs. San Francisco Giants (75-78, third in the NL West)